The Fifty Shades trilogy ends with a lot of action, emotional tension and flashes of enlightenment; fans will be satisfied...

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FIFTY SHADES FREED

From the Fifty Shades Trilogy series , Vol. 3

Ana and Christian get married, but continued physical and emotional threats, as well as Christian’s need for control, mitigate their bliss.

At the end of Fifty Shades Darker, Anastasia Steele agrees to marry her beloved magnate-billionaire boyfriend, Christian Grey. Fifty Shades Freed starts with their wedding and honeymoon, a fairy-tale journey through Europe that leaves Ana amazed and conflicted. Uncertain about her own ambitions and identity in the face of Grey’s staggering wealth and heady sexual pull, Ana sets out to stake a claim in the publishing world, helped and hindered by the fact that Christian has bought the company. Her continued personal and professional ambivalence is forgotten as she deals with personal tragedy; then exacerbated by a chafing desire for some individual freedom; and finally overshadowed by a continued threat that hovers over Ana and Christian from an old, malevolent enemy with connections to Grey’s past no one would expect and Christian doesn’t remember. Navigating a breathless few weeks of nonstop action and emotional turmoil, Ana makes some critical errors in judgment that will impact the couple forever, and Christian must finally confront some profound, painful truths in order to move forward to the life he never believed possible, but which rests within his grasp. James’ final segment of the hugely popular Fifty Shades trilogy continues along in the same vein as Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker—some compelling story arcs and a romantic “what-if” fairy-tale scenario. Ana comes across as more rather than less mature and poised in this book in some ways, particularly in her ability to whip up righteous anger toward Christian for being suffocating and stalker-ish—in order to keep her safe in the face of real danger—while taking little to no responsibility for breaking her own promises that compromise her safety. In general, the flow is decent, the story is well-paced and the dialogue remains better than expected, but there is a lot packed into this book, and it can be a little overwhelming and unbelievable. At times, too, Ana, rather than Christian, comes across as rigid and difficult, creating trumped up conflict. However, since the true function of this book is to assure the many Fifty Shades fans that all is well in Ana and Christian’s world, and they truly can overcome any and every possible thing, then the mission is accomplished in a satisfying way, with a healthy dose of hot sex. The short chapters at the end of the book—unmarked prologue and epilogue from Christian’s point of view—offer an intriguing peek into Christian’s psyche.

The Fifty Shades trilogy ends with a lot of action, emotional tension and flashes of enlightenment; fans will be satisfied that all’s well that ends well in the Grey house...er, mansion.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-345-80350-4

Page Count: 583

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2012

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On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving...

THE BEST MAN

When Faith Holland was abandoned at the altar three years ago, she left her hometown for San Francisco to regroup; coming home to Manningsport, she’ll have to confront her past and Levi Cooper, the disturbingly handsome chief of police she blames for ruining her life.

On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving professional life and a comical romantic life. Summoned home for a few months to work the harvest at her family’s winery and help with some crisis management, Faith realizes that some things in her small town will never change—for the good or the bad—but she knows the time has come to establish a new reality with her ex, her family and maybe even Levi Cooper, the best man who forced Jeremy to be honest with her and himself on their wedding day. It’s so much easier to blame and despise him; if she lets down her guard, she might have to deal with their short but profound shared past and her own guilt and secrets from a long-ago tragedy that has haunted her for most of her life. Higgins’ newest heart-tugging romantic comedy juggles a spectrum of emotionally powerful elements, including the death of a mother, the abandonment of a father and a sigh-worthy high school romance gone awry. With her typical engaging voice, compelling storytelling and amusing dialogue, Higgins keeps the audience flipping through pages as quickly as possible, but it is her spot-on ability to make her characters at once funny, authentic and vulnerable—vulnerable to the point of breaking, so they can heal, stronger and better and more able to love—that is her true genius and guarantees most romance fans will both laugh out loud and get teary, sometimes at the same time. Another sweet, touching must-read for Higgins fans and anyone who enjoys a perfect combination of humor and romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-373-77792-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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